Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi showed speed at the start of the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya weekend. The teammates used every minute of the two free practice sessions to improve their bikes’ base settings and took third and fifth place respectively in the combined standings.
The Catalan GP is a special event for Viñales, who is excited to be riding in front of his home fans this weekend. Debuting a special helmet to commemorate his close friend Luis Salom, the youngster was quick to try his race pace with the base set-up they established at the Catalunya test three weeks ago. The work paid off, as he improved his lap time on every run and ultimately secured sixth place with a best lap of 1’40.114s, 0.658s behind his teammate in first place.
The afternoon practice saw the temperatures go up to 28°C, changing the track conditions, but Viñales’ determination and work ethic were unaffected. The local hero was quick to respond when the pace of the rider field increased at the end of the session, and he set a 1’39.422s to briefly hold first place. He ended the day in third position in both the FP2 and the combined free practice results, 0.492s from first.
Rossi’s love for the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was clear to see as the Grand Prix weekend kicked off. He had decided on setting a fast lap in the cooler morning session, before getting stuck in to working on the balance of the bike and tyre-life in FP2, and he carried out the plan perfectly. After getting a feel for the track in his first two runs, he put in a soft-soft tyre combination and finished FP1 in first place with a 1’39.456s, 0.347s in front of his closest rival.
In the afternoon the Doctor completed part two of the plan. He carried on where he left off, starting proceedings with the exact same tyres, and focused on comparing various tyre spec and setting combinations for the entire duration of FP2. His fastest lap of the session, a 1’39.989s put him in eleventh place in the rankings, 1.059s from the front. However, his fastest FP1 lap still earned him fifth place in the combined timings, 0.526s from the top.
Position: 3rd – Time: 1’39.422 – Laps: 38
“I think we can make another step here in Catalunya for tomorrow, though we already improved the bike quite a lot today, especially in FP2 in the hot conditions. We have to keep working and keep focusing on the way to improve the bike. We’ve been working a lot on improving my feeling in the first laps of the race and I think we also have an idea that we’ll try tomorrow. I’m going to make all runs with a race set-up and do laps and more laps, that’s what I like. To get onto the first row tomorrow will be very important.”
Position: 5th – Time: 1’39.456 – Laps: 37
“To be in first position is always a good feeling. We used soft tyres this morning because this afternoon we needed to work a lot on the different tyres to try to get an understanding for the race. As always, the choice is very open, both front and rear. We tried to understand, but we need to make more kilometres tomorrow. We need to work on the bike also, but the first impression of the first day is positive.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“We’ve had a busy start to the Catalan GP, but also quite a rewarding one. Thanks to the test here three weeks ago we had an idea of how to start proceedings. We were able to commence the weekend with already a good bike set-up in place and this gave us the possibility to improve it with less time pressure. While Maverick used the entire day to focus on his race pace, especially concerning the first laps on a new tyre with a full tank, Valentino put a lot of effort into fine-tuning his bike’s set-up and also comparing almost all the tyre specifications. Both riders have a few aspects that they would like to improve, so that’s what we will work on tonight, to make these elements better for tomorrow’s FP3.”
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Pair Delivers Superb Opening to Catalan GP
With a great team effort, Johann Zarco and Hafizh Syahrin showed an impressive performance today at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. While Zarco powered to eighth position in the combined standings, he improved his lap time from this mornings’ FP1 to the afternoon session by 0.3 seconds.
In the meantime, MotoGP rookie Syahrin did fantastic to reach the top 10 for the first time on Friday, snatching a provisional Q2 entry. The crucial third Free Practice is set to commence at 9.55 local time tomorrow, before both Monster Yamaha Tech3 riders fight for the best grid position ahead of the seventh round of the 2018 season.
Position: 8th – Time: 1’39.633 – Laps: 37
“I’m happy about this first day in Barcelona, because I feel much better than in Mugello and the test we did before was very useful. Immediately we felt good on the bike and we can play with a few things, while always being with the top guys. It’s always good to feel this again and we’re working. It’s complicate to go much faster, but I hope to understand everything together with my team in order to prepare the race in the best possible way. During this first day we’ve been competitive and much more comfortable than two weeks ago.”
Position: 10th – Time: 1’39.782 – Laps: 38
“I feel very good and happy, because it was my target to arrive in the top 10, ready for Q2, but tomorrow is another day and I’m sure that Marquez will be strong in FP3. Anyway, we made a huge step from the last test and I have a very good feeling with the bike. Thank you to all my guys, because they gave me a very good package on this first day. I think I have some kind of extra motivation, because this is like my second home GP. I try to push myself and give my best. The target is to go directly to Q2.”
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